Two men are going to jail after taking a guac on the wild side when they attempted to steal avocados from a Cal Poly orchard.
Braulio Franco and Alejandro Sanchez of Santa Maria were sentenced to 60 and 45 days in the San Luis Obispo County jail, police said. Misdemeanor loitering and false identification charges were dropped in a plea deal.
“We’re thrilled to have caught these guys,” said University Police Department Commander Lori Hashim. “There was a lot of theft last year of avocados and lemons that cost a lot of money.”
The men were caught around 10:30 p.m. on March 12 after a witness reported a suspicious vehicle at Mission Avocado Orchard, which is on state land and owned by Mission Produce. They were found with 40-gallon trash bags and pruning shears, and though they hadn’t taken any of the fruit yet, they ran when police arrived.
Mission Produce is a Southern California avocado and avocado products company with more than 6,400 avocado trees planted nearly five years ago on 70 acres of Cheda Ranch. The smallest of the Cal Poly campus ranches, it sits beside Stenner Creek and California Highway 1.
The attempted avocado theft is just one in a string of similar thefts that occurred in Southern California in the past few years.
Avocado prices can reach $1.30 a pound, or about two avocados, according to the University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultura Economics.
The price has been affected by consumer demand as well as several setbacks, including a 30-percent water cut by officials from the Sacramento River Delta; the San Diego County wildfires, which caused an estimated $25 million in damage to avocados, according to the county farm bureau; and a January freeze that cut California’s avocado production from 237 million pounds to 550 million pounds last year, said the California Avocado Commission.